In order to optimize COVID-19 control during the emergency response period, support from various sectors is needed, including support for human health laboratories in providing quick and accurate results for COVID-19 testing. As a means of support, the Directorate General of Livestock and Animal Health Services (DGLAHS), Ministry of Agriculture, Indonesia, has arranged for its veterinary laboratories to assist in testing of human samples.
At this time the Ministry of Agriculture has a network of veterinary laboratories that have the capacity to conduct COVID-19 testing by detecting genetic material of viruses using the real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) technique. This laboratory network has also been accredited with ISO/IEC SNI 17025 and is supported by application of biorisk management (biosafety and biosecurity) to help protect animal health workers and laboratory technicians.
Five veterinary laboratories under DGLAHS have been designated by the Ministry of Health as national COVID-19 referral laboratories, namely: Disease Investigation Center (DIC) Bukittinggi and DIC Lampung in Sumatera, DIC Wates and DIC Subang in Java, and DIC Maros in Sulawesi. These laboratories were selected as they met the requirements to assist with human sample testing for COVID-19 according to the Ministry of Health standard, including a laboratory safety standard of at least biosafety level 2 (BSL 2+).
In addition to contributing to COVID-19 sample testing, Veterinary Services in Indonesia also support COVID-19 control by providing personal protective equipment (PPE) packages—containing materials such as N95 masks, google, gloves—and other necessary equipment—such as viral transport media (VTM), swabs, and RNA Extraction and PCR kits—for health services, health care facilities, and health laboratories in their respective work areas.
In the near future, DGLAHS is preparing animal health epidemiologists to assist in the contact tracing of human COVID-19 cases and to conduct investigations of targeted animal cases based on epidemiological risks.
Pebi Purwo Suseno, Senior Veterinary Officer, Directorate of Animal Health
Directorate General of Livestock and Animal Health Services
Ministry of Agriculture, Indonesia